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UCR environmental scientists propose chemical solution to cleaning California's Salton Sea

ive restoration plan to return the Salton Sea to its former condition as a high-quality aquatic ecosystem and recreation area. One aspect of this restoration plan will be the management and control of nutrient inputs to the lake.

Inflow water into the Salton Sea by way of the Whitewater River, the New River and the Alamo River contains fertilizer nutrients from agricultural runoff and municipal effluent. These nutrients, particularly phosphorus, deteriorate the quality of the lake's water by encouraging algae growth.

"Water treatment technology and on-farm management of fertilizers appear to be the best approaches for reducing algae blooms in the Salton Sea," Amrhein said.

Unless measures are taken to clean the Salton Sea, evaporation will result in the sea being too salty for fish, resulting also in the loss of fish-eating birds frequenting an area that is home also to several endangered bird species and visited by millions of waterfowl every year.

Massive fish kills are a common occurrence at the Salton Sea, however, because of low dissolved oxygen, high hydrogen sulfide and ammonia concentrations, high temperatures and an increasing level of salinity.

Due to noxious odors emanating from the Salton Sea, a 32 kilometer-long State Recreation Area on the northeast shore remains under-used.

"The Salton Sea at one time attracted more visitors than Yellowstone National Park," Amrhein said. "If nothing is done, this sea will shrink, exposing lake sediments that could generate dust and worsen air quality. Fish and fish-eating birds would disappear in 10-30 years, and be replaced perhaps by birds that eat brine shrimp. And the sea would continue to smell, which might even get worse. Doing something to address the Salton Sea's problems on the other hand could greatly stimulate eco-tourism here and boost the economy of this region."

L. B. Mason, C. C. Goodson, M. R. Matsumoto and M. A. Anderson of UCR assisted with th
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Source:University of California - Riverside


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